By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A McDowell County teacher was awarded the title of Four Seasons Teacher of the Year Thursday night and was honored with a very big prize.
Amanda Marshall, a fourth-grade teacher at Fall River Elementary School in Big Sandy, was awarded the top honor and received a free vehicle to drive for a year from Cole Chevrolet. Marshall was one of six teachers from Mercer, McDowell, Tazewell and Bland counties who were honored at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Cole Chevrolet and WVVA-TV.
“I am completely surprised,” Marshall said. “It’s unbelievable and overwhelming. I am extremely humbled. I had no idea I would win. I am just amazed to be counted among these amazing educators here tonight.”
Marshall has taught for three years in McDowell County and served as a student teacher in the African country of Burkina Faso. She was also selected as the McDowell County Teacher of the Year.
“I love to be with my students,” Marshall said. “I have seen how education impacts a person, and I love to be the person who can give a positive message and be a good influence on my students. My experience in Africa has helped me teach my students just how big the world is and how everyone has such potential. An education can change your life, and I hope to instill in my students what a blessing and a privilege an education is.”
Marshall was chosen by a committee of education professors and staff members from Concord University. Each of the six nominees were each interviewed by Concord staff about their teaching, professional development, and involvement in the community.
The other nominees include Debbie Blessings, a sixth grade teacher at Bland Elementary School and the Bland County Teacher of the Year; Angie Neal, a third-grade teacher at Mercer School and the WVVA Teacher of the Year; Diane Sudduth, a teacher at Brushfork Elementary and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Teacher of the Year; Ann Wells, a teacher at the Mercer County Technical Education Center and the Mercer County Teacher of the Year; and JoAnne Young, a teacher at Graham High School and the Tazewell County Teacher of the Year.
All of the nominees were given a plaque and a gift basket containing gift certificates, a fleece blanket, umbrellas, stadium seat cushions, notepads, pens, coffee cups, water jugs, totes, cookies and more.
Tom Cole, owner of Cole Chevrolet, said he felt it was important to bring together teachers from across the two Virginias to honor their contributions to the community.
“Recognizing our educators is extremely important because they are so under-appreciated and critical to the next generation,” Cole said. “We wanted to put together an event to honor teachers from this area, pulling from our local counties. We partnered with Concord University to do the selection. Although we only pick one teacher of the year, this is a way to recognize all of the people who dedicate their lives to our children.”
Bluefield Daily Telegraph Publisher Darryl Hudson said it is important to show area teachers that their efforts are appreciated.
“Teachers are responsible for training our greatest assets, which are our children,” he said. “It is their hard work and dedication that makes the future brighter for our children. It is important for us to recognize the time and effort they put in each day.”
Frank Brady, general manager of WVVA-TV, said teachers are vital to the future of today’s youth.
“Our future is our youth,” Brady said. “They are being nurtured now by these teachers, and we depend on these teachers to shape our future.”
— Contact Kate Coil at email@example.com�